HC Deb 08 August 1887 vol 318 cc1546-8
Mr. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)

asked the Secretary to the Board of Trade, What answer he has received from the Midland Railway Company to his inquiries with respect to the strike of engine drivers and firemen; and, whether, in view of the great public inconvenience and danger attending it, he can do anything to promote a settlement of the dispute by arbitration?

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

asked, whether the hon. Gentleman had been informed that, in consequence of the employment of incompetent engine drivers and firemen, five engines had been already burned—that was, the fireboxes and tubes had been ruined by the incompetency of the men.

MR. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)

I should like to ask, whether the hon. Member is not aware that all our firemen are sailors of 30 years of ago, and are men thoroughly competent to do their work?

THE SECRETARY (Baron HENRY DE WEMYSS) (Liverpool, East Toxteth)

The Question of the hon. Member for Northampton does not refer to the fireman employed in extinguishing fires. I have not received the information alluded to by the hon. Member for Northampton; but I will make inquiry. With reference to the first part of the Question of the hon. Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Lawson), I think it is covered by the answer which I gave on Saturday to the hon. Member for the Hallamshire Division of Yorkshire (Sir Frederick Mappin). With reference to the concluding portion of the Question as to arbitration, although the Board of Trade would be glad if their good offices could in any way tend to an amicable and equitable solution of the difficulties which have arisen, they have no power to initiate any action or offer any advice in the matter.

SIR FREDERICK MAPPIN (York, W.R., Hallamshire)

asked, if the hon. Member would inquire how many fireboxes and tubes had been burnt on the Midland Railway in comparison with other railways throughout the country?


said, if any information was sent to him he should give it.


said, he understood the hon. Member to say he should make inquiries.


said, if he received any information he would see what he could do.

MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

asked whether the attention of the hon. Gentleman had been called to a specific statement made in The Standard of that morning that— Of the men taking the place of the strikers some were cripples, some had lost their sight qualification years ago, one man had been allowed to go on duty whilst drunk, and another, who cost the Company £16,000 some years ago by a collision, had been reinstated. Could the hon. Gentleman give any information as to the truth of this statement, or would he make inquiries?


said, he could give no information, nor could he promise to make any inquiry. This was a dispute between the Midland Railway Company and their own employés.


asked, whether the hon. Member realized the dangers of the situation—that the lives of thousands of the public were involved.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

I must point out to the hon. Member that in this matter the Government have no power. It would be going quite beyond our powers to interfere with the Railway Company, and we must leave the responsibility where it properly belongs.